Lessons Learned: Reflections

The last day of the year can be a time for reflection. You think about your past and what you did in the last year. You then think about what you want to do for the coming year and in the future. Of course, some people just think about the party. Who cares about the past or the future? Let’s just have fun and worry about life later on.

Whatever you decide to do is up to you. For me, I usually reflect both on past and future during the last few weeks of December. By the time New Year’s Eve comes around, I’m tired and ready for the New Year to begin. In reflection, I’m happy with the last year. I’m happy that my final edits are with my editor, and I’m that much closer to ePublishing. Next year, I’ll be an author. Am I looking forward to 2013? You betcha.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, no matter how you reflect or celebrate.

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Lesson Learned: Surprises come in small packages.

Twenty-two years ago I worked in retail and had just finished working the last day to the Christmas shopping rush. The store closed early that Christmas Eve and those of us at the store celebrated with champagne. I was pregnant and due any day. I figured a little glass of champagne wouldn’t hurt, and I deserved it after being on my feet and watching my son Hans (approx. two and a half) who was with us all day.

Once we closed the store and grabbed a bite to eat, we drove up the mountain road from Denver to our house in Bailey, Colorado. Our route took us approximately an hour to get home. The roads were covered with snow, but they were still drivable. On the way up, I explained to Hans how we’d have to get him to bed because Santa would be coming in the morning. We watched the sky for Santa’s sleigh and reindeer. No sign yet as the van stopped in our driveway. I carried my sleepy boy into the house. I set him down in the foyer and my water broke. Oh-oh. The pains began. I was in labor. I called the midwife, and she wanted me to get to the hospital.

We called Guy, our friend, to let him know it was time, since he would be taking care of Hans. We bundled up again, piled into the van, and then headed back down to Denver. I had to explain to Hans that Christmas with Santa would be delayed. Guy met us at the hospital. He stayed with us until midnight before taking a confused little boy home with him.

Willow was born on Christmas at approximately 8:30 in the morning. The nurses put her in a Christmas stocking to celebrate the day. I then received a dozen beautiful red roses, delivered less than an hour after giving birth. I looked at Willow’s father and replied, “How sweet.” He looked at me, dumbfounded. The roses weren’t from him.

The nurse explained, once she came back into the room. The bouquet of roses came from a gentleman, who remains anonymous, even to the hospital staff. The roses were in memory of his mother and given to the mother of the first child born on Christmas each year.

What a gift. My heart went out to this gentleman and to my newborn daughter snuggled in a stocking.

Happy Birthday, Willow!

And

Happy Birthday to my sister Pam – born on Christmas Eve.

Lesson Learned: Giving a little can mean a lot.

This is the time of year when the red kettles come out, requests come in the mail for donations, and the mitten trees sprout in hallways at work. We buy presents for our families, secret Santa, and those we care about. We are reminded of the spirit of giving. Not everybody celebrates Christmas, but we can all benefit from the holiday season to help.

Many years ago, I was barely making ends meet as a single mom. When my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them that I didn’t need anything, but I would really appreciate if my dad could make bunk beds for my kids. I wanted their mattresses off the floor. My dad made me nice, simple beds. That was the best present ever. Later that year, I had a temporary job where one of my co-workers realized that I didn’t have money for food until the next paycheck. He wanted to buy me groceries. My pride prevented me from accepting his offer. However, I did go to the food shelf after a hard nudge from a friend.

I am glad those times are in the past, but I won’t forget them. I will donate to a few of the national charities throughout the year to help with research, but I like to make one or two special donations here and there to a local person or group that truly needs help. For this holiday season, I bought an outfit (shirt, pants, and shoes) for an eight-year-old boy, and I gave money to the Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 470 in MN. The three men who came out for my brother’s funeral meant a great deal to me. They volunteer their time to honor a fellow soldier. I appreciate what they do, and I appreciate that they care. My donation can help pay for some of their expenses.

For giving, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Sometimes people need a little help here and there to get their feet back on the ground. Keep your eyes open. You’ll know who they are because they won’t take advantage of what you can give. They may not accept your offer, but they will appreciate your kindness. You will make their day, and they won’t forgot it.

Lesson Learned: Snow Day!

Saturday night was the start of a huge snowstorm that swept the Midwest. The storm ended this morning and produced 10 to 12 inches of snow in the Hudson area. The bad news is that I had somewhere to go on Sunday, my writer group’s meeting and holiday party. Driving over fifty miles in snow and on slick roads is not a favorite of mine. The good news is that I wasn’t the only one who thought the same. We cancelled the meeting and rescheduled the party to our January meeting. I now had a full day with no commitments. A snow day!!

I thought about all the things I could knock off my list, like clean off my desk, go through my emails, and wrap the presents I had bought. I wanted to get started right away, but my mind spun in every direction. I froze for a bit (not literally) and then took on the first chore of watering my plants. I went upstairs with my water pitcher and thought of something else to do. I tried working on that, was distracted, and then remembered I had to finish watering the plants. How frustrating!

At that point, I stopped and looked out my bedroom windows. I have three high windows on one wall. Inside, I decorated the sills with candles, snowmen, and white leaves. Outside, the backdrop was snow and ice clinging to the window, almost as if Jack Frost had come to visit. I smiled as I admired my windows in this new winter scene.

I then went to the dining room window and looked out to the park. I watched the white flakes swirl down to the ground. A dog jumped across the blanket of snow with his tongue hanging out and ears flapping. Snow flew up as he bounced around and circled the marshmallow- coated pine trees.

I did get to my list. I prioritized and dug into the tasks I knew had to get done. In between work, I took a few moments to look outside and watch the beauty around me. What a great day.

Even Small, It’s Still Exciting.

Last spring, I attended the RT Booklovers Convention to learn more about ePublishing. I had a conversation with Jim A. from Smashwords when I visited their booth. He asked if I would be interested in talking to someone who was writing an article on ePublishing. Of course, I agreed. After exchanging email addresses and correspondence, I received an email from Andrew Rice who writes for Time Magazine. He asked if he could interview me, but he couldn’t guarantee that he’d use the information for his article. I was fine either way. We set up a time for the one-hour interview.

During the interview, we talked about why I was at the convention, what I wrote, what my story was about, and how I felt about the ePublishing process versus going the traditional agent/publisher route. We talked a lot during the interview, and when our time was up, he had to state once again that he wasn’t sure if my information would be used or not. For me, I was just excited about the experience!

Mr. Rice thought that the article may come out sometime in June. June came and went. I didn’t think too much about the interview after that. I figured the timing wasn’t right for the story, or that the story may have been completely dropped.

Two days ago, I received an email from Mr. Rice stating that the ePublishing article he wrote should be in stores soon. The issue would have Egypt’s leader on the cover (the December 10th Issue). In the email, he included a PDF version of the article.

My little fingers clicked open that PDF in no time. I scanned the document for my name, and there it was near the beginning. My name in Time Magazine! I was okay with the one sentence blurb – a sliver of the article. From our conversation to what he wrote, I understood the reason why he said what he did.

Thank you, Andrew, for including me in the article. You made my day!